Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

DuPont Quiz at Cognizance'11

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

As promised, I am posting the DuPont quiz, which was a qualifier for participants interested in FUTURE MATERIALS WORKSHOP at Cognizanze’11, IIT Roorkee.

Sample Question : While attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant the perfluoroethylene polymerized 3 times faster in a pressurised storage container with iron acting as a catalyst. This new material invented by Roy Plunkett was chemically inert to virtually all materials and was the most slippery material in existence. Name the material.

Download rest of the quiz : DuPont_quiz at Cognizance’11


Cognizanze'11 – Where Ideas Converge

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm


Everyone wants to get back in time to the good old college days. I have been fortunate to do that on several occasions, across various premiere institutions in India.

It was one hell of a roller coaster experience at Cognizance, the annual technical festival of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. My laptop crashed right before the seminar, I had to reschedule the workshop to next day, cancel my onward flight, rework all night on the new presentation, and to top it all – India lost to South Africa. The only time Murphy was not playing tricks on me was when Robotron 2011 was won by the team I was cheering: IIT Roorkee. The participants competed to complete assembling blocks with a robot. For the first time I felt like being in IIT – mecca of technology.

 I was at Cognizance’11 to lead the Future Materials Workshop. I was told by the organizers that there was a quiz on DuPont to screen the top 15 students who could attend the workshop out of about 100 who registered. Abhinand, our quiz master shared few questions to which even I had to scratch my head. I will post the quiz separately.  The campus was buzzing with over 9000 students from different IITs, National Institutes of Technology and deemed universities.

The theme of Cognizance was “For a better tomorrow”. While I was challenged to design my presentation around the topic all over again, I was also feeling bad about the students who could not attend my workshop because my laptop crashed. It was scary to realize our dependency on technology & energy. I felt suffocated like Neo in Matrix. Technology should remain as a tool to assist us, but should not start ruling us.Next day, I started the workshop in the morning with – Powers of Ten, by Eames. I still get fascinated and inspired every time I see this video. I wanted to provoke thinking and inspire engagement when it came to mapping our future. Architects & designers have to develop broader thinking and take responsible decisions. There was an interesting discussion on Green design.

Sustainability & Green – These are two buzz words. Everyone talks about them but few understand. I shared an example of plastic pencils that claimed to be green because they were manufactured from recycled content. But, what about the energy needed to recycle plastic ? What about the plastic that goes into waste every time you sharpen these pencils ? On the counterside there are wooden pencils that claim to be green because wood is a natural material. But, what about deforestation and natural habitats that get affected by felling of trees ?

At this time, there is no right(or) wrong. We are going through an evolutionary phase. There is some work done by LEED on carbon credits, but still this is not comprehensive. My intention was to sensitize students about this topic. It is very easy to get carried away in the eco-consumerism era. Developers keep shouting about green projects through daily full page news-paper ads, which in itself renders it non-green. Some developers make hypothetical visualizations of buildings surrounded by imaginary vegetation and water bodies. I am sure they must be also painting the building Green!  Anything, to lure the ignorant customers.

Every material is unique, and has to be used in the right spirit. As I always say that, it is not the material but the Architect who is good or bad. After all, a material is not fortunate enough to decide what it wants to be. Next few hours, I took the students through a range of future scenarios to see application of materials such as, greenroofs, vertical gardens, safety glass, solid surfaces and bio-fabrics. I found the students to be genuinely interested about the subject, which leaves me with lot of hope and good feeling about a new generation of reponsible professionals who will try to do their bit in bringing about a positive change after this small interaction session.

Thanks – IIT Roorkee & Cognizance’11 team for giving me this opportunity to interact with them. It was my dream to conduct a workshop in IIT and this was the first time. It was a proud moment for me. DuPont Management, for supporting Open-Innovation program. This is my 3rd year leading this initiative. I have already interacted with over 3000 students through this unique programme. Last but not the least – DP for sharing his laptop at the eleventh hour & Oystra for fabrication support.

The organizers – Siddharth(missing) , Siddhant, Abhinand & Gibron (L to R)

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"Do not flick our furniture"

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2011 at 1:37 am

 “ Do not flick our furniture “ –  This poster greets you bang at the entrance of the furniture design studio. Why would furniture prototypes get flicked? For sitting under a tree, for a shoot, for a birthday…?  Obviously, those were of some value to the someone ! NID with its workshops is a very unique place to design objects of desire …

It is always nice to be back to NID, and even better to be back in furniture department. I felt at home. I was here to lead and facilitate design innovation workshop with the students of furniture design.


NID Nostalgia – an experience of a life time.

Beyond the hands-on skills, I was driving a Design Process- that helps designers explore possibilities of any unknown material/object, which can further help in developing applications in various projects.

The most important skill of a design thinker is to ask questions. Curiosity leads to exploration.  We began with a candid group discussion about the history of Corian® . Why was it invented and how did it evolve into the most desirable medium for designers to realize their imagination into reality. Next, we looked at some of the very inspiring works of international designers, such as, Zaha Hadid, Karim Rashid etc. Students were very thoughtful, critical and enthusiastic about Corian®’s creative applications.

Next day, I divided the class into four groups. I asked the groups to think about their daily routine and come up with a laundry list of their current needs. Each list became problem statement for another group. This way the students would be exposed to designing for customer needs, which are never defined. The students will have to interact with their customer groups to probe further to get started with designing.  Finally, groups were ready with an area they would work on.  The final brief was to develop solutions by using unique properties of Corian®.

The four groups :

Team 1 : Shamit, Hiren , Anup & Krishna

NEED : Interior Garden

Customer : Team 2

 Team 2 : Mayank, Ruchita, Aditi, Shweta, Komal

NEED : Pool Furniture

Customer : Team 1

 Team 3 : Yawar, Swaroop, Sujay, Angad, Teresa

NEED : Accessories(Mugs)

Customer : Team 4

 Team 4 : Amita, Tushar, Shreshta, Anjali

NEED : Interior Lighting

Customer : Team 3


The next 2 days the groups explored Corian® in the workshop and refined their designs as per their further understanding of material. I found the students very smart and flexible in approaching the design development. Moulds were made, forming was improvised, designs failed but team spirit won. I encouraged students to learn by making mistakes. As Einstein’s quotes – “One who has not made any mistake has never tried anything”. Quite profound.

Finally, the explorations were ready for review. I asked the customer group to review the designs of their designer’s group based on the following two criteria :

  1. Has the design considered your NEED?
  2. Has the design considered unique properties of Corian® ?

 Ground Rules for evaluation :

  1. Take responsibility for participation in evaluation
  2. Every question is good question
  3. Share your opinion and experiences
  4. Criticize ideas not people
  5. Respect time



For the final review we had designer Neeraj Shah as our guest jury member. Neeraj is a graduate from CEPT Ahmedabad and heads IDO studio. Neeraj shared his experiences and gave some very valuable insights about the professional side of designing. The idea of evaluation was to learn from each other and introspect what could have been done better. I was very happy to see the final outcome of this week long activity. It is amazing to see the a group of students come up with so many ideas in such a short time frame.

This is the power of imagination & design process which is more effective than knowledge and information.

Some people call it Design Thinking !

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